New Delhi/Mumbai: A wave of shutdowns will hit Indian state-owned refineries next year as the country prepares for cleaner fuels from April 2020, company officials said, in moves that could temporarily dent oil demand and push up imports of refined fuels.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, has surplus refining capacity and rarely imports gasoil and gasoline.
It also means that demand for fuel produced by India’s privately owned refiners will likely climb during the period, as state refiners seek to fill the gap.
State refiners — Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals — account for about 60 per cent of the country’s nearly 5 million bpd capacity.
The refiners will have to shut gasoil– and gasoline-making units at their plants for 15 to 45 days to churn out Euro VI-compliant fuels from January 2020 to be able to sell them from April of that year.
“Next year will be challenging for us as I have to protect my crude throughput and finish the job at the refineries and get ready for Euro VI by April 2020,” said B.V. Rama Gopal, head of refineries at IOC.
IOC plans a roughly month-long shutdown of gasoline- and gasoil-producing units at all of its 11 refineries, he told said.
Key parts of the refineries requiring a revamp include naphtha hydrotreaters, catalytic reforming units, isomerisation units, diesel sulphurisers and diesel hydrotreaters. In addition, some refiners have to revamp or set up new gasoline treaters, hydrogen production and sulphur recovery units.
India has been gradually reducing sulphur emissions from vehicles since 2000, when fuel sold in the country had 500 parts per million (ppm).